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Vermont coach's error leads to NH team's victory (Little League World Series)
AP/Boston Herald ^ | 8/12/06 | AP/Boston Heraldo

Posted on 08/13/2006 9:49:20 AM PDT by raccoonradio

BRISTOL, Conn. - A Vermont coach’s failure to let one member of his team get enough time in the game gave the Portsmouth, N.H., Little League all-stars a victory over Vermont’s team by virtue of forfeit.

The manager’s apparent mental error turned a back-and-forth game - complete with six home runs - into a contest marred by confusion, chaos, tears and two ejections.

Portsmouth lost Friday’s game 9-8 if runs are counted, but the team was awarded the victory and advanced to Monday’s championship because of Vermont’s rules infraction.

The Colchester, Vt., manager Denis Place failed to get a player in the game for at least three consecutive defensive outs and one at-bat - a mandatory Little League rule. That meant the New Hampshire state champions were officially awarded a 6-0 forfeit victory.

In the bottom of the fifth inning with the game tied, 7-7, Vermont scored twice on a Nate Frieberg two-out, two-run homer. Vermont held a 9-7 lead and seemingly stood three defensive outs away from a berth in the title game.

But Vermont substitute Adam Bentley hadn’t received his required share of playing time.

Portsmouth recorded the fifth-inning’s third out before Bentley stepped to the plate. The only way for Vermont to have had a chance to play Bentley would have been if Portsmouth made a come back.

Place told his players what had happened during a huddle at the pitcher’s mound once the first two outs were recorded in the top of the sixth.

Keegan Taylor started the inning with a double and later scored to cut the Portsmouth deficit to 9-8. Vermont attempted to allow Portsmouth to tie the game - so Vermont could avoid a rules violation - with obvious wild pitches and poor throws in the infield.

“Call me stupid, but I didn’t know anything until they wouldn’t pitch to my son (Connor),” Portsmouth manager Mark McCauley said. “When they started to throw the ball into the screen, I was like ’Whoa, wait a minute. This kid just got wild.’ Then one of the (Portsmouth) parents yelled down right after - or maybe it was simultaneous - ’They don’t have a kid that’s in.’

“Once it was obvious to me that they were playing (funny) by throwing the ball into the top of the screen, the administrators called both (managers) over and said, ’You will not make a mockery of this game,”’ McCauley added.

When Vermont continued to try to help Portsmouth tie the game, Place and Vermont pitcher Zach Tandy were ejected.

Tandy’s two blatant wild pitches pushed the potential tying run to third, but McCauley kept his player from advancing any farther. The Portsmouth manager said he also told his players to swing at poor pitches and intentionally miss, to ensure the team could protest.

“It was crystal clear to me that (Vermont’s manager) was not going to let the kids decide the outcome of the game,” McCauley said. “He was going to cover his tail. He was doing what was in the best interest of his team. I had to do the same for my team.”

Executing McCauley’s orders, Stephen Hemming struck out to end the game.

McCauley approached the umpires before they left the field and filed his protest. About two hours later the rules committee in Williamsport, Pa., issued its ruling.

“I’ll be drop-dead honest. I would’ve rather walked off that field losing, 9-8, and been ignorant to the fact that we didn’t do our job to check that book,” McCauley said. “I hate this. I absolutely hate this. I wish I wasn’t here. I feel absolutely horrible about it. You know who I feel the worst for is those Vermont kids. You can’t say anything to those kids. My heart breaks for those kids.”

Players from both teams and Vermont’s manager were unavailable for comment.

But Tammi Tandy, a Vermont team parent, insisted Place’s mishap was an honest mistake.

“Was it intentional Absolutely not,” Tandy said. “(The coaches are) in there crying their eyes out with these kids. It’s just a bum deal. It’s one of those freak things. You don’t ever expect not to play a player. And then in the excitement, guess what happens?”

Portsmouth is now one win away from representing New England at the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pa.


TOPICS: Miscellaneous
KEYWORDS: baseball; colchester; littleleague; newhampshire; portsmouth; vermont
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To: raccoonradio
and from the Burlington (VT) Free Press:

---------------

""My sons have played for Denis for four years," she said. "He is probably the fairest and most rule-minded person you can imagine. It was an honest oversight."

Tammy Frieberg, whose son Nate launched a two-run home run Friday, echoed the sentiment.

"It was an honest mistake," she added. "This coaching staff did a tremendous job."...

Portsmouth trailed 9-8 with two outs in the top of the sixth inning and had runners on second and third base. Place knew he wouldn't be able to provide his substitutes a turn at-bat if Colchester maintained the lead. He instructed his pitcher to throw a few wild pitches to entice Potsmouth's runner home to tie the game. That way his substitute would get to the plate in the bottom of the inning to avoid a forfeit.

Portsmouth manager Mark McCauley held his runner on third, however, directing his batter to intentionally strike out and end the game, according to reports in the Manchester (N.H.) Union Leader. McCauley protested the result, and his team won by forfeit.

"It was crystal-clear to me that (Vermont's manager) was not going to let the kids decide the outcome of the game," McCauley told the Manchester Union Leader after the game. "He was going to cover his tail. He was doing what was in the best interest of his team. I had to do the same for my team."

21 posted on 08/13/2006 10:31:16 PM PDT by raccoonradio
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